The only time it’s okay not to snitch is over matters…
a) …of trivial importance (i.e. if someone knicked a piece of gum and someone’s flipping shit/their wig/anything but burgers over who did it)
b) …wherein someone would be senselessly victimized as a result (i.e. if a persecuted minority wanted to hide out in your home to escape a truly malevolent, evil, or oppressive pursuer–think Jewish people in Nazi Germany or non-Arab Sudanese in Darfur)
c) …relating to your own business (i.e. if someone wronged you–and you alone)–and you choose to forgive that person)
d) …potentially resulting in disproportionate punishment of the accused (i.e. if the punishment for shoplifting is 50 years hard labor)
Other than that, “not snitching” isn’t upholding some arbitrary code of street justice. It’s screwing over victims–often those who can least afford it, given the socio-economic situations of the places that generally embrace the “don’t snitch” mentality. I can understand not wanting to bring potentially abusive authority figures into your neighborhood, particularly when you have very good reason to believe that said authority figures historically have not had your best interests at heart. However, when someone else’s life/possessions/property are at stake rather than your own, that isn’t your call to make. If you truly care about preserving the sanctity and integrity of your community, as “stop snitching” advocates so often do, then you should be the first one pointing the finger at the very people tearing it apart from within: the petty thieves, robbers, and murderers preying upon said community. Ever notice how, most of the time, the “stop snitching” advocates are either celebrities with millions of dollars, gated mansions, and personal bodyguards or the very same people perpetrating those crimes? That isn’t a coincidence.
Considering that the entire “stop snitching” movement in the US started as a way to get reduced sentences for known gang members and drug dealers–the very people responsible for much of the violence and crime plaguing these communities in the first place–the very fact that it has gained any sort of traction in urban culture is both shocking and incredibly sad. It’s a disgusting example of celebrities and the seedier elements of society wielding power and influence to manipulate an audience that is disproportionately poor, at-risk, and desperate into behavior diametrically opposed to its self-interest. And for what? Street cred with a “key demographic” according to some publicist? To expedite putting dangerous criminals back onto the very same streets they terrorize?
I absolutely understand why the “stop snitching” message resonates so strongly among the poorest, most desperate, and must vulnerable members of society. Law enforcement agencies within the United States deserve every ounce of scrutiny their actions receive and a dozen times more. Ultimately, it was, and is, on them to engender the trust, respect, and goodwill necessary to protect those communities, and at that task they failed–and continue to fail–utterly. Ending the horrendously self-defeating “stop snitching” movement begins with them: the moment when American law enforcement officials, at every level, both collectively and as individuals, take a good look in the mirror and start asking themselves if the shield they wear is a badge or a bludgeon. And maybe if law enforcement snitched a bit more often when they witness members among their own community of officers brandishing their supposedly sacred emblem as an object of blunt force against the people they swore to serve and protect, who knows? Things might actually improve.
So, to answer the question in the first post asking “When is snitching okay?”: whenever you witness injustice.